Since the dawn of well, business, entrepreneurship has been the gold standard for true innovation. Entrepreneurs–the fearless few who innovate, collaborate, and create jobs for others–are both tasked and credited with some of the greatest revolutions of our time. But why should entrepreneurs (and their small businesses) reap all the benefits of agility, nimbleness, and creativity?
Enter the intrapreneur: an innovative and creative individual who uses his or her skills to benefit an organization from the inside.
Like an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur has great ideas and isn’t afraid to speak up, using that same spirit to reform processes, brainstorm ideas, and collaborate with others on a macro level. Intrapreneurship is the secret to exactly how large, brand-name corporations are competing against entrepreneurs and startup culture.
Still not convinced that intrapreneurs are the right move for your large organization? See how monolithic companies like GE are reforming their training strategy to encourage intrapreneurs to step up and act more like entrepreneurs.
#1 They Create Internal Innovation.
Corporations are realizing that there is a direct correlation between employee innovation and the size of the organization they work under. The difference for small companies, startups, and entrepreneurs? They have to create or fail, while larger organizations can rest on their laurels. GE, however, created the FastWorks program to help encourage employees to be more creative. Opening channels of communication and asking their workforce to speak up and test theories often means innovation stays within the office walls.
#2 They Encourage Collaboration.
Intrpreneurship gives employees permission to collaborate across different silos; whether it’s pitching an idea to a supervisor or looping in another department. Entrepreneurs learn to use whatever resources they can get their hands on, so intrapreneurs are taught to do the same.
#3 They Give Permission to Fail.
In larger organizations, employees are content to coast, knowing that while it won’t make them superstars, it also ensures they won’t fail and incur their supervisor’s wrath. An intrapreneurial approach means employees are encouraged to test their ideas and fail fast, moving on to new solutions or reforming ideas until they’re perfect–no fear necessary.
#4 They Include Millennials.
We all know that millennials crave leadership opportunities and, above all, to be heard and respected. When developing FastWorks, GE found that intrapreneurship was the ideal way to bridge the gap between millennials and other generations in the workplace. By opening up the channels of communication and reducing slow-moving processes, millennials feel more inclined to speak up while collaborating with their colleagues for a more satisfying experience. That means losing fewer millennials to shiny startups and reaping their innovative benefits in-house.
#5 They Improve Problem-Solving Skills.
Instead of just waiting for someone else to improve a process or fix an issue, intrapreneurs are encouraged to apply their problem-solving skills to the policies and everyday issues that slow their progress. This encourages all employees to be better problem solvers and to work on making the entire organization faster, more agile, and real competition for nimble startups.
Whether you’re a multinational corporation like GE, or you’re a mid-sized organization trying to motivate employees to think beyond their traditional roles, intrapreneurship pays off in a big way. By creating a collaborative space for your workforce to create, innovate, and affect real change, you keep all the benefits of an entrepreneurial spirit safely in your office.